Chapter Fourteen: Communication and Negotiation

Communication is the process of transferring information, meaning and understanding from sender to receiver. The basic model of communication involves encoding, the act of constructing a message, the medium, the mode or form of transmission, decoding, the act of interpreting and noise, potential interference with the transmission or decoding of a message [nota bene: noise can also occur with the encoding, consider the confused mind]. Verbal modes can be oral, written and non-verbal modes can include dress, intonation, gestures, expressions and body language.

Media richness refers to rich or lean on their capacity to facilitate shared meaning. Rich media is personal, used multiple cues to aid decoding and has immediate feedback (e.g., face-to-face). Lean media is impersonal, has few cures and delayed feedback (e.g., email).

Communication has an organisational context. Downward communication is messages sent from higher organisation levels to lower; upward communication from lower organisational levels upward, and lateral communication that is sent between equivalent levels in an organisation. Upward communication typically refers to information, questions, suggestions, problems and requests for clarification. Downward consists of goals, objectives, directions, decisions and feedback. Communication channels can be formal or informal. Formal are authorised, planned and regulated that are directly connected to the its official structure. Informal channels develop through typical and customary activities of people at work.

Communication networks are identifiable patters of communication within and between organisations whether using formal or informal channels. Networking is a process of developing regular patterns of communication with particular individuals or groups to send and receive information.

Barriers to communication include interpersonal, organisational and cultural. Interpersonal barriers can include selective perception, frames of reference, individual differences, emotion, language and non-verbal cues. Organisational barriers can be hierachial, resulting form the formal structure, and functional, resulting from differences between functional departments. Cultural barriers include language, high/low-context cultures, stereotyping, ethnocentrism and cultural distance.

Improving communication involves improving listening skills (being more open-minded, developing empathy [huh, sympathy surely], listening actively, observing non-verbal cues, improving sending skills, simplifying language, organising writing and understanding one's audience. Improving communication on an organisational level can be improved through gatekeepers, individuals who are a communication interface between different units.

Negotiation is the process of conferring to arrive at an agreement between different parties, each with their own interests and preferences. Effective negotiations can be achieved through recognition of negotiation interests, the concerns of one party, what they want, and negotiation positions, where they stand regarding their interests. Less effective negotiations refer to positions, people involved and maintaining/increasing competition (win/lose focus). More effective negotiations include interests, problems/issues and decreasing/lessening competition (collaborative focus).

Key factors in cross-national negotiations include people and their cultural biases, situational circumstances, location of negotiations, physical arrangements, emphasis on speed and time, composition of the negotiating team, and the negotiating porcess (1. planning and preparation, 2. relationship building between negotiating parties, 3. Information exchange, 4. Persuasion attempts and 5. Concessions/agreement).